Monday, May 25, 2009

Sally MacLennane blues in Jinju...

Words cannot describe how frustrated I am with things today. But I’ll start off playing catch up and I’ll give myself another evening to cool down and then talk about my frustration with this group.

I had a wonderful time yesterday and the past couple of days in Jinju. We saw some amazing sights filled with beauty and wonder. Jake and I had a lot of fun avoiding the “American Day” (lunch at McDonalds and dinner at Pizza hut) and I’d like to just put a HUGE shout out to Soojin Wu for helping us out by getting Bibimbap beforehand (4:30). Thanks and you get one huge tip of the hat! However, hands down the best part was meeting Elly’s family and her friends. Later that night (~7:30) Elly’s mother, sister, and friend Hyun-Jung came and picked me up and took me to a chicken place for dinner.

Neither elly’s mother or her sister spoke English, but Hyun-Jung spoke it very well. Chicken was very good; a kind of fried chicken with a sweet red sticky sauce and some side dishes. The only problem was that it was very difficult to eat the chicken with the chopsticks, since it was still on the bone and everything. Coupled with our sitting on the ground (traditional Korean style) made this a very difficult meal for me; however apparently my difficulties made me look very “cute” in their eyes, at the expense of a bit of pride. I learned later that Jinju is famous in Korea for its high number of beautiful women-the Korean saying goes “The number of beautiful women in Jinju is one more than the number of flies,” so perhaps this is a more than fair trade off, no?

After dinner, Elly’s mother (well technically Hyun-Jung drove) had us stop by a grocery store where we got some fruit and snacks, and then we went back to Elly’s home and talked for a long time. It was a really wonderful night; eventually Elly’s aunt and two younger cousins came over and visited, although the cousins were kind of afraid of me or something. Regardless of this, I had a wonderful night with these ladies and I made plans with Hyun-Jung to meet with some more of Elly’s friends the next night.

The next day we visited a Korean shrine in the mountains and it was absolutely beautiful. The hike up the mountain and through the woods was gorgeous and the shrine itself was really cool as well. We also saw a folk village which was pretty neat and then we went to a Chinese restaurant. That was kind of fun as well, since I sat near Ja-ru and Sao-schen (two Chinese girls) and we talked about the quality of the food in comparison with back home, why I shouldn’t eat at Guanton province, and the general mischief children could get into in the states or in the PRC.

After dinner, we all went back to the hotel, but Soo-jin was going to help me and Jake go meet with Elly’s friends. However, she also invited some members of our group, which was a huge mistake. Firstly, they are never very punctual. Secondly, they are extremely loud. Third, they are extremely inconsiderate. They never are grateful either. Soo-jin was kind of worried since she wasn’t comfortable with so many people coming and plus the bus driver was waiting on us before he could go home, so she wanted us to hurry. However, they didn’t seem to care and took their sweet time, ignoring Soo-jin. And when Soo-jin asked them to be careful and stick together because she was responsible for them; they just laughed at her and said they were adults. Never mind that she was going out of her way to take them out…

Anyway, luckily they got bored waiting at the restaurant/bar place we were at and went off on their own. That left Jake, Soo-jin and I together with some snacking food (Koreans like to snack when they drink) and some so-ju while we waited for Elly’s friends. So-ju is a traditional Korean alcohol and it is OK. Much better than vodka, but that isn’t saying much. Hanging out with Soo-jin was fun and it really is a pity I didn’t get to know her better last year while she was still in PSU. It kind of sucks making a friend after you’ve already parted ways…

Elly’s friend Hyun-Jung showed up, bringing two guys along: Dong Yup and Jin Yeong. We ordered more food and more so-ju and we started to have a really good time. They were really fun people to know and Jake and I are both in agreement that last night was probably the best we’ve had so far (although for me, it is a close tie with meeting Elly’s family). Sadly, eventually Soo-jin had to leave because she had to work the next day, so we all said our goodbyes; hoping that we’d all meet again sometime (most likely in vain, I deeply regret to say).

After this, Elly’s friends and the two of us continued to hang out, but we moved to a different restaurant/bar. By now, Jake was a little tipsy but I felt fine, if extremely full. Both swearing off anymore food, we continued to converse with Elly’s friends and try new types of Korean liquors. To be honest, they weren’t all that bad, and it is a good thing they were all so weak, or I’d be in a lot of trouble, since I am not one inclined to drink and I have little experience in the matter. Sadly, the night drew to a close and we made our farewells with some great folks. Hyun-Jung’s only fault that I can find so far is that she’s an Obama supporter, and the two guys’ only problem is that they did they’re military service in the navy. But nobody is perfect.

Man, how I’ll miss Jinju… I hope I'll come back again someday, but it just seems so unlikely...

"Sad to say I must be on my way
So buy me beer and whiskey 'cause I'm going far away (far away)
I'd like to think of me returning when I can
To the greatest little boozer and to Sally MacLennan"

By the way, Hyun-Jung, if you read this, this song isn't really the best sampling of my kind of music. I like the song, but the band is a little bit "rough" like that rice drink we had.

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